Guam residents awoke Thursday after a long night of wind and lightning storms as Hurricane Mawar, which toppled coconut and mango trees and knocked out power across much of the U.S. Pacific region, peaked late Wednesday night.
People lined up outside shops that were open to buy food and supplies. Many businesses only accepted cash because there was no electricity or internet.
Mawar was upgraded to a super typhoon, meaning it has maximum sustained winds of at least 150 miles per hour as it moves over open water.
The storm is the strongest to hit Guam in years and is expected to develop tropical storm-force winds before weakening Thursday, a weather service forecaster warned. As of 11 a.m. local time, the storm had moved about 105 miles northwest of Guam, but a hurricane warning was still active, the forecaster said.
There were no immediate reports of casualties or injuries. But the storm was so strong that it broke the wind sensors and radar equipment that transmits weather data to the local weather service office — and downed all but two coconut trees outside the building, including what one forecaster called “our prized mango tree.” on property.
As it passed Guam, the storm packed Category 4-level winds of 140 mph “just before midnight” local time Wednesday, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist in Guam, which issued the announcement via live broadcast. Thursday morning and after sunrise.
“As the sun begins to shine, we see a chaotic scene across Guam,” said one of the meteorologists. During an update at 8 a.m. Thursday From the service office in Guam. “We look out our door and what used to be a forest looks like toothpicks. It looks like a scene from the movie ‘Twister,’ and the trees are being cut down.
The weather service earlier said it had been a long night on the island, with hazy conditions starting Wednesday afternoon. More than a foot of rain fell across Guam, with that amount approaching two feet in some areas, forecasters said.
Meteorologists said the good news was that conditions began to ease after the storm moved south of Guam and the largest territory, the Mariana Islands.
However, the service warned that it was keeping its hurricane warnings active for the nearby islands of Guam and Rota, as they could experience tropical-force winds throughout the morning. The service said a significant portion of Guam was without phone service, and that its office would close and shift forecasting operations to Honolulu so employees could return to their homes.
During a live broadcast to island residents Wednesday night, Guam Governor Lou Leon Guerrero urged people to stay home “for your safety and your security” until conditions are declared safe. Screaming wind and thunder could be heard in the background as she spoke into the camera.
“What we feel right now is that the eye is moving over the Rota Channel and we’re experiencing the hardest winds of this typhoon, even more to the north,” he said, “I’ll assess it. The destruction of our island as soon as I’m safe to go out.
Civil servants were assessing the damage.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency He said on Twitter The company has activated its coordination center to support Guam and the Mariana Islands.
The super typhoon is re-strengthening and may move west toward the Philippines and Taiwan, according to forecast models.
The Guam Power Authority said Wednesday afternoon that the island’s power grid was providing power to only about 1,000 of its roughly 52,000 customers and that it was too dangerous for repair crews to go outside. It did not update those figures as of Thursday morning in Guam.
The 150,000 or so people who live in Chicago-sized Guam, located about 1,500 miles east of the Philippines, are used to tropical cyclones. In 2002, Super Typhoon Pongsona made landfall as a Category 4 typhoon. Caused more than $700 million in damage.
Stronger building codes and other improvements have reduced damage and deaths from major storms on Guam in recent years. In most cases, “we barbecue, cool, and adapt” when a tropical cyclone hits, said Wayne Charqualoff, 45, who works for the local government’s housing authority.
But since Pongsona has been around for so long, “we have a whole generation that has never experienced this,” he added. “So a small doubt started to creep in my mind. Are we really ready for this?”
The storm also affected the US military, which has several key facilities on the island. All military aircraft left the island before the storm or were placed in security hangars, Lt. Cmdr. Katie Koenig of the U.S. Navy said in a statement Wednesday. He said all the military ships had departed except for one ship that remained in port with engine trouble.
Tropical cyclones are called hurricanes or typhoons depending on where they form. Typhoons, which form from May to October, are tropical cyclones that originate in the northwest Pacific and affect Asia. Studies suggest that climate change has increased the intensity and potential for destruction of such storms because warmer oceans provide more energy to fuel them.
Mawar, whose Malaysian name means “rose”, is the second named storm in the western Pacific this season. Firstly, Tropical Storm ChanvuWeakened within two days.
John Yoon, Victoria Kim, McKenna Oxendon And Jin Yoo Young Contributed report.